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City Council President Tours Supervised Injection Sites in Vancouver

By Mark Ackerman

DENVER (CBS4)- Denver City Council President Albus Brooks said he was impressed with how safe and effective supervised injection facilities were in Canada, after traveling to Vancouver to see the facilities first hand on Nov. 8.

"I believe if people keep dying at this rate you will see something like this in Denver," Brooks said. "I'm all in on a strategy to curb opioid use and I believe safe use sites can be an important piece to that."

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Denver City Council President Albus Brooks (credit: CBS)

Supervised injection sites are medical facilities where addicts can bring street drugs and use them with medical professionals standing by to make sure they don't die from an overdose. The safe sites have been used in Canada and Europe for years. Now a slew of major U.S. cities, like Denver, are considering implementing them as well.

"You cannot get better if you are dead," said Brooks who said he became passionate about the idea when he became overly reliant on OxyContin after a pair of cancer surgeries. He said it showed him, "anyone was susceptible to opioids."

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State Rep. Leslie Herod said she's seen first-hand the pains of the opioid crisis as well.

"I think we talk a lot about those people who are addicts, those people who are on the street," she said. "Sometimes we forget those people look just like me."

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Rep. Leslie Herod (credit: CBS)

Addiction has hit Herod's family directly. Her mother had an opioid issue, but was able to access treatment. Her sister also had addiction problems and was in and out of jail for years.

"My family experiences are the reason why I work to battle addiction every day in the legislature," she said.

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On the state level, Herod is pushing a package of bills that would allow cities like Denver to open supervised injection sites. She plans to travel to Vancouver tour safe injection facilities with a second Denver contingent in January.

When Brooks visited, he said there were still a lot of heroin addicts who refused to use the safe facilities. People were still shooting up in back alleys.

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"The idea that a safe site cleans up a community is not true," he said. "What it does is help prevent deaths."

Mark Ackerman is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. Follow him on Twitter @ackermanmark

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